Jessica Campbell-Maracle is a recent graduate of the Production Design and Technical Arts – New Pathways Program. In spring 2024, she completed her training with a placement at the National Arts Centre (NAC) Indigenous Theatre. We caught up with her to learn about her experience working with the world’s first national Indigenous theatre and how it relates to her time at NTS.

Tell us about your placement at the NAC Indigenous Theatre?

So in the spring I became the Producing Resident with Indigenous Theatre here at the NAC. During the placement I was mainly focused on the Indigenous Theatre general audition tours. My main role was the Vancouver stop, and then we had stops in Saskatoon, Edmonton and Winnipeg as well, and we’re currently planning our Toronto-Montreal dates. Working with the associate producer, I got to travel to Vancouver, and I was also involved in scheduling and prepping all of the documents for the prairie stops, although I wasn’t able to attend those because they coincided with graduation. 

I’ve also been working on the show You Used to Call Me Marie. It happened out in Vancouver at The Cultch and it’s happening here at the NAC in Ottawa in a couple weeks. We’re in prep for it. So while I was in Vancouver, I was also shadowing the show to figure out how to make it work in this space.

When my internship ended, the NAC offered me a summer job. I’m continuing to work on You Used to Call Me Marie, except right now I have my producing resident hat off and my stage management hat on.


Pictured: Jessica Campbell-Maracle backstage with Anita Rochon (Directing, 2009) at an NTS production.

How has your internship at the NAC been similar or different from what you were doing at NTS?

The producing role was a little different than what I’m used to working on a role backstage, but with the training at NTS the skills are very transferable into other areas. For example, I was able to apply my production skills to producing.

The main difference would be the experience of working with the Indigenous theatre community and learning how to support that. Even then, there are similar initiatives happening at NTS, with changes to the New Pathways program and bringing in Katey Wattam (Director of Indigenous Perspectives) and Kevin Deer (Elder in Residence). Seeing that process at NTS and then seeing similar things at the NAC Indigenous Theatre, there’s a lot of overlap if that makes sense.

What’s something you learned while working at the NAC Indigenous Theatre?

I always knew there was an importance in consulting community and making sure they’re part of the conversations, but being here has really instilled that into me, just because I’m seeing it more in practice. The Indigenous Theatre works closely with the Anishnabeg Algonquin Nation and the NAC’s Algonquin Advisory Council. Within my placement period in my first weeks of being here there was a meeting with the National Council to discuss what we’re doing here and to receive their input.


What’s been the biggest challenge?

 Another thing that’s different between training at NTS and here is it’s not just the show that I’m doing now, it’s also what’s upcoming, also focussing on other seasons ahead. I think that would be the biggest challenge. Doing what I’m doing for the show now, but also keeping on top of all of the other tasks for the upcoming seasons.


What’s been your favourite part?

So many things! The Indigenous Theatre team. Everyone here is so great. And they’ve also been a big part of my learning journey through the past three years. For example, Peter “Spike” Lyne (PDTA, 1986) was my mentor in second year and he’s the Technical Director of the Indigenous Theatre, so I’ve been working closely with him.

Another highlight has been getting to see Indigenous voices on stage and learning how we can support those audiences and the performers and everyone who comes into the building and make it a welcoming space.


Is there a show you’re working on that people should come see?

You Used to Call Me Marie by Tai Amy Grauman. It’s been my world since the Producing placement, and now I’m assistant stage manager on it. It’s an epic Métis love story with music and jigging. It’s on from June 12th to 16th. Definitely worth seeing!


Anything else you’d like to share about the experience?

My biggest takeaway that I’m still processing is that, although it might be hard to feel like you can take up space, you can and it’s important. Know that the skills you have are there or can be learned. That’s how this work can continue, and we can build a bigger knowledge base and share that knowledge with those who are up and coming and want to learn about the process.

About Jessica

Jessica Campbell-Maracle (she/her) is a mixed Kanien’kéha:ka / settler theatre artist from Toronto.  She is a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Production Program (2017) and recently just graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada in the Production Design and Technical Arts New Pathways Program. Select theatre credits include Almighty Voice and His Wife (Soulpepper Theatre), Honour Beat (The Grand Theatre), The Breathing Hole / Aglu (National Arts Centre), John and Beatrice (National Theatre School of Canada).